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November 17: David Amram

November 17, 2015

David-AmramMulti-instrumentalist, composer, and lifelong hipster David Amram was born on this date in 1930. Amram was one of the first jazz players to improvise on French horn, and one of the first classical composers to blend jazz themes into his work. His collaborators have included Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Willie Nelson, James Galway, Tito Puente, Stan Getz, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Sonny Rollins, and numerous others. He has also composed for film (Splendor in the Grass), for opera, for orchestra, and for theater. In 1957, Amram created and performed in the first ever jazz/poetry readings in New York City with Jack Kerouac, with whom he collaborated artistically for some dozen years. Amram is the author of three memoirs: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat (2009), Collaborating With Kerouac (2005), and Vibrations (1968, 2007). To see him conducting and playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, look below.

“In jazz, you listen to what the bass player is doing and what the drummer is doing, what the pianist and the guitarist is doing, and then you play something that compliments that, so you are thinking simultaneously and thinking ahead.”